Queen, 95, returns with a virtual audience at Windsor Castle

Keep Calm and Carry On ZOOMING: Queen, 95, has second engagement in two days by holding virtual audience with Vietnamese ambassador – after skipping weekend events due to ‘strained back’

  • Monarch, 95, was forced to miss weekend events including Remembrance Sunday after ‘straining her back’ 
  • In a turquoise dress, pearl necklace and brooch, she hosted Vietnamese ambassador Nguyen Hoang Long
  • The virtual engagement comes after Queen held audience with head of armed forces Gen Sir Nick Carter
  • Chief of Defence Staff walked in to be greeted by one of Queen’s dorgis, before approaching her for a chat 
  • The monarch previously told of her regrets at having to miss Remembrance Sunday after spraining her back
  • Also unable to attend Church of England’s national assembly yesterday, for the first time in her 69-year reign 

The Queen has carried out her second engagement in as many days, this time in a virtual Zoom appearance with diplomats from Windsor Castle, as she continues her return to official duties.

The monarch, 95, who has strained her back and also been resting for nearly a month after preliminary tests in hospital, welcomed the Vietnamese ambassador Nguyen Hoang Long via video link.

Seated in her Oak Room sitting room at Windsor, the 95-year-old head of state could be seen on the computer screen on Thursday wearing a turquoise dress, with black collar detail, her pearl necklace and a brooch.

The ambassador, who was at Buckingham Palace with his wife Vu Huong Giang, presented his credentials, and the letters of recall of his predecessor.

On Wednesday, the monarch was seen for the first time since she cancelled her Remembrance Sunday appearance, when she held a face to face audience with the outgoing head of the armed forces General Sir Nick Carter.

The Queen has carried out her second official audience in as many days, this time in a virtual Zoom appearance with diplomats from Windsor Castle.

The 95-year-old head of state could be seen on the computer screen on Thursday wearing a turquoise dress, with black collar detail, her pearl necklace and a brooch

The nation’s longest reigning monarch told the military chief it was ‘easier to continue’ once you get into the top military job.

The Prince of Wales, who is on a tour of Jordan, has said the Queen is ‘alright’ but ‘once you get to 95 it’s not quite as easy as it used to be’.

She also held a virtual audience on Wednesday with commanding officers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

It comes as the monarch was seen standing unaided as she held a face to face audience at Windsor Castle, in her first official engagement since missing Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph after spraining her back. 

Her Majesty – dressed in a green, orange and white floral dress and wearing a string of pearls – was pictured sharing a brief conversation with General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff.

Prince Charles was asked about the Queen today on his trip to Jordan. He said: ‘She’s alright, thank you very much. Once you get to 95, it’s not quite as easy as it used to be. It’s bad enough at 73!’ The last comment was a reference to his own birthday on Sunday.

The military audience in Windsor’s Oak Room – a sitting room that doubles as a private office – was Her Majesty’s first in-person audience since she hosted a global investor summit at Windsor on October 19. 

The monarch 95 – dressed in a green, orange and white floral dress and wearing a string of pearls – was pictured standing as she greeted to Gen Sir Nick in Windsor’s Oak Room

Wednesday’s meeting was the first in-person audience the monarch has held since an investor summit at Windsor on October 19

Sir Nick walked through the door to be greeted by one of the Queen’s dorgis, before approaching the monarch for a chat. 

Her Majesty described his upcoming retirement as ‘rather sad’, to which he replied, ‘eight years, it’s a long time’, before mentioning that his only predecessor to have served long was Lord Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin. 

The general added that he thought ‘the time had come to move on and do other things.’ 

Reacting to the scenes, royal expert Dickie Arbiter tweeted that it was ‘good to see The Queen at work.’  

Her Majesty was also left unable to attend the Church of England’s national assembly yesterday, for the first time in her 69-year reign. 

Prince Edward, her youngest son, read out a speech on his mother’s behalf at the Church of England synod yesterday. 

LAST SEEN — The Queen is photographed leaving Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on Tuesday last week

(From left) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Kate, Duchess of Cambridge; and Sophie, Countess of Wessex stand on the balcony of the Foreign Office in Westminster during the Remembrance Sunday service where the Queen would have been present

The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge stand on the balcony at the Remembrance Sunday service

Her statement read: ‘It is hard to believe that it is over 50 years since Prince Philip and I attended the very first meeting of the General Synod.

‘None of us can slow the passage of time; and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings.’  

Her Majesty also spoke remotely to delegates at COP26 in Glasgow, urging world leaders to reach decisive climate change deals as she warned ‘none of us will live forever’. 

Prince Charles and Camilla are currently on a tour of Jordan, and were pictured yesterday joining Queen Rania for a private dinner at the Al Husseiniya Palace.

Earlier in the day they dipped their fingers in water from the holy River Jordan, which is used to baptise royal babies. 

Meanwhile, the palace is facing fresh turmoil over Prince Andrew, this time over his finances. 

Yesterday, it emerged he had a loan from a major Tory donor’s private bank extended to £1.5million to cover his ‘living expenses’ just days before the tycoon transferred a similar amount of money into his account.

Businessman David Rowland, 76, wired the money to a London bank account held by the Duke of York – a long-term friend of his – in December 2017, it was claimed.

The prince’s account was with Banque Havilland SA – a Luxembourg based private bank owned by Mr Rowland and his family.

The transfer to Prince Andrew’s account was earmarked for a repayment of a £1.5million loan from Banque Havilland, according to documents reportedly seen by Bloomberg News.

The unsecured loan had, according to reports, been increased 11 days earlier by £250,000 to cover the Prince’s ‘working capital and living expenses’ – despite concern that it was ‘not in line with the bank’s risk appetite’.

But, according to Bloomberg, bank staff approved the extension, having noted that the loan opened up ‘further business potential with the Royal Family’.

Representatives for Prince Andrew described any transfer of funds between the pair as a ‘private’, while Havilland Bank denied any wrongdoing.

Major events the Queen has missed after rest orders and hospital stay

The national Remembrance Sunday service is just one of a key number of engagements the Queen has missed over the past few weeks. Here are the others:

– Northern Ireland

The Queen cancelled a two-day trip to Northern Ireland at the last minute on October 20. Buckingham Palace announced she had been ordered to rest by her royal doctors on the morning she was due to begin the visit.

The Palace said the monarch was resting at Windsor Castle but it later emerged she was secretly admitted to hospital that afternoon for ‘preliminary investigations’. She spent the night at King Edward VII’s Hospital – her first overnight hospital stay in eight years.

– Cop26 climate change summit

The Queen was due to travel to Scotland to address world leaders on November 1 at the crucial environmental summit and attend a major reception with other members of the royal family.

But five days before the event, the Palace said the Queen had ‘regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26’. Instead, the Queen recorded a video message calling on leaders to rise above politics and tackle the global warming crisis.

– Festival of Remembrance

Each year, the royal family gathers at the Royal Albert Hall for a poignant commemorative event on the night before Remembrance Sunday. The Festival of Remembrance, where poppy petals fall from the ceiling during the two-minute silence, is dedicated to all those from Britain and across the Commonwealth who have served in the military and sacrificed their lives.

On October 29, the Palace said the Queen had been advised to rest for at least a further two weeks and she would miss the Festival of Remembrance The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall instead lead royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at the event.

– Remembrance Sunday

It was the Queen’s ‘firm intention’ to be at the national service of remembrance on November 14, the Palace said on October 29, with her attendance confirmed in details released on Armistice Day on November 11. But less than two hours before she was due to appear, it was announced she would no longer be present because of a sprained back.

The Queen, head of the Armed Forces, attaches great importance to honouring the war dead. It is only the seventh time she has missed the ceremony during her reign.

The other instances include four occasions when she was on overseas visits to Ghana in 1961, Brazil in 1968, Kenya in 1983 and South Africa in 1999. She was not present during the 1959 and 1963 services as she was pregnant with her two youngest children.

– The General Synod

The Queen is also missing the General Synod. She will not be at the Synod service at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday November 16, nor the opening inauguration session at Church House, the Westminster headquarters of the Church of England, afterwards. The Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and has a strong Christian faith, and the General Synod is the church’s national assembly.

It is believed to be the first time the Queen has missed her five-yearly visit to the General Synod in its 51-year history, according to Buckingham Palace. In 1970 – the year the Synod replaced the Church Assembly – she became the first sovereign to inaugurate and address the gathering in person. Since then she has inaugurated and addressed the opening session every five years after diocesan elections. The 2020 elections were postponed to this year due to the pandemic.

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